How to improve your food photography.

food photography tips for bloggers

As the week comes to an end, so does my little photography series on the blog. As promised, today I’ll talk a little about food photography, hopefully some of my lifestyle bloggers out there will find this helpful.

food photogtaphy

Go ahead. Laugh. I seriously can’t even believe that I actually posted that picture on the left (Chef Ramsay would not be impressed!). Of course, at the time when I did, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Trust me when I tell you that the dish itself was delicious, but the way I presented it is just horrifying and maybe even a bit disgusting and I doubt that anyone would be wiling to actually try that recipe out. When posting recipes on your blog, you need pay special attention to not only your photography but the presentation and composition of your dish as well. You want to engage the reader, you want them to be excited and eager to try your recipes out, you want to make their mouth water, and you will not accomplish that if your food looks like the image on the left. Sorry. Let’s see if I can squeeze a few more chuckles out of you:

bad food photography example

Notice anything similar about all of those images? They all have that ugly, yellow cast and it’s all because they were taken late in the day when natural light was not an option. Remember when few days a go I told you that it’s all about natural light? Well, I wasn’t lying. I love cooking, it’s one of my favorite things to do and I really wanted to start featuring my recipes here on the blog. The problem was, I usually cook after I get home from work (obviously) and I would have no other choice but to take my pictures late in the day. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to take that perfect shot, without good lighting it’s simply impossible.

When I finally realized that my evening sessions photographing food were not giving me results that I wanted, I had to make certain sacrifices. Now, I only prepare my food-related posts on the weekends or my days off when I have a lot of free time in the morning and-you guessed it- lots of natural light to work with. That means no more sleeping in on Saturday mornings :) . With results like these, I don’t think I’ll complain about that too much though:

food photography

I think I already mentioned that I take pictures of my food by that big kitchen window/door that I showed your here. Because my light source is coming only from one side (right) I had to figure out a way to get that beautiful, natural light to bounce off the left side to create an even, stable and unifrom look. That’s when my $15.00 reflector/diffuser comes in handy. I got it on Amazon right here. It’s a round, collapsible disk that has 5 different reflectors: silver, gold, white, black, and translucent fabric. I use the white one and place it across my light source (if my window is on the right side of my dish, I place the reflector on the left side, allowing it to bounce the light off it) and it creates a great fill light, getting rid of the shadows and making my image look brighter. If you don’t have a reflector and/or don’t want to buy one, you can also use a white piece of paper, white cardboard or white piece of foam board.

Look at the difference between these two images, the one on the left was taken only with the light coming through the window, whereas the one of on the right was taken using the reflector.

Tps for food photography

Composition is also very important when it comes to food photography, but I won’t go into too much detail with that. I was terrified to see that on one of my old pictures I actually used a paper plate (oh, the horror!). I would obviously recommend that you try avoiding that. As I said before, I use my 50mm to take pictures of my recipes. I like to place some fruit or vegetables whenever composing my images, I scatter some tomatoes somewhere behind or next to my plate, etc., I think that it makes them more inviting and creates a nice background as well. I also have some old, used and run-down cutting boards that I like to use and my collection of dishes and other kitchen-related knick-knacks has grown over the last couple of months. My favorite place to go is Home Goods, they always have huge collections of unique plates, mugs, cups, bowls, boards, colorful placemats, dishtowels, rags etc. and usually it’s all at a very reasonable price.

Lastly, I want to quickly show you how my husband and I made this cute little wood palette that I have been using for my food photography over the last couple of months.

mini wooden palette

I think that above tutorial is pretty much self-explanatory :) . We got all of the supplies at Home Depot for probably around $30.00-$40.00. The strip boards are 1×3. If you don’t have a nail gun, you can also use good old hammer :) . I bought two paint samples (for about 3 bucks each) white, and baby blue. I first painted each side with the primer and then went over with the paint. I didn’t want the palette to look too “perfect” so I did sort of a messy job when painting it blue, that way some of that white primer is showing through, making it look a bit run-down, which is exactly what I wanted. Cool thing about this is that if I happen to get bored of these two colors, I can always buy more paint samples and simply paint it over to whatever color I wish. I didn’t use any specific measurements, I basically told my husband how big I wanted it to be and we just took it from there. I could probably get away with only using one “layer” and just paint it a different color on the other side, but since we had a lot of pieces of those strip boards, we decided to use them on the other side, creating a small wood palette. In case you’re wondering, mine isn’t too heavy and I have no problems moving it around, picking it up and carrying it with me around the house if I need to (carrying it around looking for a spot with good lighting of course, I don’t just carry it with me for sh*ts and giggles ;) ).

Annnd that would be all for today. I hope you guys found this helpful, if you have any questions about anything, just let me know and if you know of anyone who could use these tips, please share this post with them (shameless plug :D ). This whole photography-week has been a great success, can’t thank you all enough and now I’m gonna try to have hubby take me out to lunch so we can celebrate hehe. Every excuse is good, right?

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what I’m up to on daily basis.

 

 

 

  • Hehe, the first picture made me laugh so much – sorry, Paula, it wasn’t AT you, it was definitely WITH you, and the fact that I’m so proud of how far you have come! To be honest, every recipe you post does get my mouth watering so you have reached your goal!
    Amazing tips and the wooden palette seems like a gem for you!!
    <3
    xoxo,

    BerryBloomXO.com | Beauty & Lifestyle Blog 

    • Hahahah awww thanks so much Puja :D :D

  • I have taken photos of my food before, never for my blog but more maybe for instagram and then ended up not posting because it turned out like that first photo. Thanks for sharing all your great tips. I can’t believe how far you have come. It seriously gives me lots of hope in my own improvements.
    xx, Jodi
    http://highheelsandtutus.com

    • Thanks so much Jodi!! ;)

  • Awesome post! I’ve been struggling with my food photography, and these are some really great tips! I’ll be trying all of them out :)

    Hazel Jane xx
    hazeljane.co.uk

    • Thanks so much lovely!

  • Kate

    I’ve loved this series Paula! So many great ideas. I don’t photograph food (except occasionally in restaurants!) as I’m a hopeless cook, but there’s so many good tips that I can apply to photographing anything really! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

  • A paper plate? Oh my darling you are skies and stars above that! ;) Hehe :D
    Aww joking aside Paula, yet another amazing, amazing, amazing post!
    You really have surpassed yourself so much during and throughout your photography week. Really, really couldn’t be prouder of you!

    Your recipe posts are definitely firm favourites of mine, so many times have I lusted after the gorgeous, flawless photos and wondered just how you do it, so this post was all the more incredibly exciting and captivating to read! One of the things I admire most about you love, is your ability to “keep it real” and be honest. As I mentioned before, it’s wonderful you are posting old photos you don’t feel entirely comfortable with. It’s always hard, I know I have so may previous posts where I hate what I’m wearing and just shudder at my fashion sense of days gone by ;) I know you’re not too keen at all on the first ‘before’ photo but believe me when I say it’s making my stomach rumble just as much as your ‘after’ pic hehe :D And I was drooling over your pasta recipe and those gorgeous courgettes when I read the above line about you wanting to make us chuckle more haha! Honestly I think you did a fab job back then, a job still to be firmly proud of, it’s just you’ve kept moving, striving, developing and growing as a photographer and now your work has evolved so beautifully! You should be so very, very proud of yourself love! This week has just been absolutely outstanding Paula, and quite rightly you should be out celebrating with hubby.. I hope there was lots of celebratory champagne involved ;)

    I know you will continue to reach for the stars, moon and skies, and Thirteen Thoughts will continue to fly through the galaxy with you! Be happy, be proud and know that you deserve every MOMENT of it <3

    Love you!

    Sophie xo

  • Loved this post! I definitely need to build a palette like yours. I think it makes such a good background!

    Your first food picture gave me a nice giggle, but on the other hand it is really motivating to see that you had to develop your photography as well :)

    I loved your photography week and I hope for more blogging tips soon!

    Love from Germany!

    xx Carolin
    http://www.olive-apple.com

    • Aww thanks so much Carolin! I really didn’t want to post my old pictures at first, but I thought that it would be cool to show others how clueless I was at first and how much I’ve improved. So happy that you liked this post, can’t wait to see how your palette comes out! It really comes in handy ;).

  • Dee Dee

    Paula, I am still in “novice” mode on my food blog, and sadly, my photos are (very) slowly coming along. But as you mentioned, having a gloomy/non-light-filled house sure makes things tough. I have on my list white cardboard, tin foil, and some other items to continue to make my photographs better each time I post. Fingers (and eyes, legs, toes) crossed that I can improve as you have!! Thanks for the great tutorial!

    • Thanks so much DeeDee! Keeping my fingers (and eyes, legs and toes hehe) crossed for you! I was very frustrated lots of times, especially having a limited source of natural light. It’s always best to just try to work with what you’ve got and white cardboards FTW! I have so many of them , they truly do come in handy. Thanks so much for visiting, best of luck to you with your food blog!

  • Thanks! I’m a rookie blogger and really struggled to make my pictures look bright and fresh, thanks for putting all this work into your posts! Us newbies are loving it!

    • Thanks so much, I’m so happy you loved this post! ;) ;)

  • Haley

    I love all of the photography posts! I just started a blog and can’t wait to try out all your tips!

    http://lifeandeverythingnice.com

  • This post is so helpful! I just had the realization the other day about the whole cooking early in the day to get the lighting needed for food posts thing. My husband is currently about to start a palette furniture adventure, so maybe I can rope him into making me a background for photos before he gets started ;)

    Hillary | http://www.averycharmedlife.com